US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has backed out of teaching at the George Washington University Law School following protests over his concurring opinion overturning Roe v Wade, which affirmed the right to abortion care for the past 50 years.
He was part of a conservative majority that in late June reversed the 1973 ruling, making abortion nearly impossible for pregnant people in the 25 states with partial or full bans on the procedure.
Justice Thomas, 74, has taught a seminar at the private law school in Washington DC since 2011 and was supposed to lead the seminar this fall with judge Gregory Maggs of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
“Justice Thomas informed GW Law that he is unavailable to co-teach a constitutional law seminar this fall,” a university spokesperson said in a statement.
The university added that it did not “have additional information to share” about whether the judge would return in future.
Justice Thomas reported $10,000 (£8,225) in income from teaching at the law school on his 2021 financial disclosure.
Following the June judgment, thousands of students had signed an online petition urging the university to sever ties with Justice Thomas, a demand that officials have refused to accept. The petition had more than 11,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
University provost Christopher Bracey and law dean Dayna Bowen Matthew reportedly said in an email that Justice Thomas would not be fired even though his views did not represent the university or its law school.
“Like all faculty members at our university, Justice Thomas has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry,” the email from June said.
Meanwhile, more than a million signatures have been registered to a petition calling for the impeachment of Justice Thomas for his Roe v Wade judgement.
He further irked Americans in his concurring opinion by saying the court “should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell”.
The mentioned cases deal with the country’s fundamental right to privacy, due process, and equal protections rights, like same-sex marriage.
Additional reporting by agencies